What is in this article?:
- Drought may be altering the way High Plains farmers irrigate.
- More half-circles are likely.
- Cotton will remain major crop.
High Plains cotton is nearly ready to harvest.
“We are likely to see more half-pivots and crop rotation as water levels decline. We also can’t always depend on drip irrigation to fully charge. We can drop off a zone if we need to.”
When he started with drip irrigation, he could count on 3 gallons per acre. “Some fields are below that now. When we had better water, we also grew some seed milo and seed sunflower. We used to get hailed out a lot; we still get hail, but it seems to come earlier and we can replant cotton.”
Wilmeth is a frugal manager. “We use equipment as long as we can,” he says, and he buys good used equipment.
“We strip most of our own cotton, but hire some out every year. We get it out quicker that way and don’t have to spend $150,000 for a new stripper. With our acreage, we can’t justify owning a new stripper.”
He’s careful with crop nutrition as well, but applies what the crop needs. “We fertilize to production potential,” he says. “We treat everything about the same, except that we have a higher yield possibility with drip and will apply more nitrogen through the system as we see more potential.”
He puts some nitrogen out early, with the phosphorus. “We don’t apply too much in case we get hailed out.”
He’s trying to keep ahead of herbicide-resistant weeds. “We’re seeing some resistance, but we have never gone to a 100 percent Roundup program; we always put something else behind the planter or at lay-by. This year, we did both and made two Roundup applications. We are doing our best to minimize resistance problems.”